Freak-folk collective Akron/Family’s follow up to 2007’s gorgeously weird, schizophrenic mess Love is Simple, dubbed Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free, finds the band now a trio following the departure of lead singer Ryan Vanderhoff, and subsequently, with less of the weird that made Love such a powerful statement.
On Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free, the band is more focused on the construction of each song rather than how the compositions relate to one another in the context of the album. This provides a more song-orientated feel, letting the band’s simple, folky roots shine through, as they do magnificently on “Set ‘Em Free, Pt. 1.” But part of what made Love is Simple such a gorgeous mess was how each song seemed to grow from the previous, with its primitive, tribal soul and communal feel. Set ‘Em Wild lacks that continuity, but makes up for it with a batch of stronger songs than its predecessor.
Is it a better album? Maybe not. But there’s is still plenty of wild, freaking fun with this one.
Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free is out now on Dead Oceans.